Iowa Republicans introduced a bill that would make basic food items like fresh meat ineligible for SNAP benefits. But this proposal will not apply to other states.
The Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP) helps millions of Americans pay for groceries.
Formerly known as the food stamp program, more than 41 million people, approximately 12% of the population, benefited from SNAP last year and is a central component of the nation’s efforts to end hunger.
SNAP funds can be used to purchase a wide variety of products, although some products, such as alcohol and hot meals, are not eligible. Some popular tweets recently accused Republicans of trying to limit SNAP benefits by proposing to cut the number of eligible products.
Have the Republicans proposed reducing the amount of food you can buy with SNAP?
Republicans in the Iowa House of Representatives introduced a bill that would cut the number of foods you can buy with SNAP, but that would only affect Iowa — there was no such bill at the federal level.
WHAT WE FOUND
SNAP is overseen by the USDA but administered at the state level.
On January 11, representatives from several Republican states in Iowa introduced a bill that proposes numerous changes to how Iowa administers SNAP and certain other benefit programs.
One of the proposed changes relates to what products can be purchased through SNAP in Iowa. The bill aims to replace the current list with a more limited list from another program.
This program is called WIC – Women, Infants, and Children – and while SNAP is designed to fight hunger in general, WIC only targets certain types of nutritional deficiencies. As a result, his list of eligible products is more stringent. It also varies from state to state, with each state publishing an annual list of approved products—often down to brand, size, and flavor.
Using the WIC grocery list will prevent Iowans from using SNAP to buy some basic food items such as flour, fresh meat, and white rice.
However, the bill was not adopted – it was only introduced.
In addition, to make such a significant change to how Iowa administers SNAP, the state must obtain approval from the federal government. In the bill, Iowa will request a waiver from the USDA to change the list of eligible foods.
If the bill passes and the waiver is granted, the change will still only affect Iowa, as it is just a state proposal. We have reviewed the list of laws currently in Congress and have not found a single bill that proposes changes to SNAP-compliant products at the federal level.
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